We’ve reached the end of the group stages. The final moment of Group Eight is here, and it’s Mike Denley OH (1949) and his javelin successes. Vote in our Twitter poll on Friday to decide your favourite moments – the winner will progress to the quarter-final stage!
In the summer months, dozens of Hamptonians flock to the fields at Hanworth Road to try their hand at various forms of athletics. Javelin, high jump, hurdles – you name it.
What most don’t know, though, is that they’re following in the footsteps of a particularly decorated Old Hamptonian athlete. Mike Denley OH (1949) was the Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) Junior Javelin Champion in 1949, before he won the AAA Senior National Championship in 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953. Not content with medals, Denley also broke the British record twice in 1952.
The AAA is the oldest amateur athletics governing body in the world – the AAA Championships have overseen the careers of innumerate successful athletes. Until its conclusion in 2006, it was considered the unofficial British Championships, often holding trial events for the GB teams.
The quality of Denley’s competition makes his successes all the more remarkable – incidentally, his fellow OH Dave Travis would win the AAA Javelin title nine times little more than a decade letter, including eight consecutive triumphs from 1968 to 1975.
Sandwiched in between Denley’s impressive British titles was a trip to the Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952. Though an 11th-placed finish in the qualification round didn’t quite live up to the pre-Games hopes, competing in the Olympics is a highlight of any athlete’s career.
That same year, he’d broken the British record twice, setting a new standard for athletes in the sport. Despite never quite making it to the top of the international stage, Denley’s legacy is determined by the fact that he truly blazed a trail for Britons competing in a sport that the country had previously had little success in.